A former intensive care nurse convicted of the accidental death of a 75-year-old patient who she mistakenly gave the wrong medicine has expressed regret over the “heartbreaking” case.
RaDonda Vaught was convicted of gross negligence of an intoxicated adult, but on one count of reckless homicide, a Tennessee jury found her guilty on the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide.
She had been sentenced to prison, but a judge ruled earlier this month that she should instead be sentenced to three years probation.
“What did I just do to that patient?” Vaught, 38, told ABC News he gave patient Charlene Murphey a lethal dose of the wrong drug while she was awaiting a CT scan at Vanderbilt Medical Center in 2017.
“If I didn’t kill her, what quality of life is she going to have after this?” What will his family go through?
Investigators found that Vaught was supposed to have administered a sedative for the patient’s comfort, but instead she was accused of giving Murphey a different drug that causes paralysis.
Vaught, 38, said she was ‘distracted’ when she overruled an automated medicine dispenser safety feature and admitted giving the wrong medicine, but pleaded not guilty to the charges in 2019.
Prosecutors at trial called her an irresponsible nurse who ignored her training.
“The moment you realize you made a mistake with a drug like that, and you see the condition of that patient, it was immediately very bad,” she told the outlet.
After the death, Vaught was fired from Vanderbilt University Medical Center and stripped of her nursing licenses.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center also negotiated a settlement with Murphey’s family.
“It is heartbreaking to know that Ms Murphey and her family have been so horribly disappointed. It will overwhelm all the good I have ever done in my career,” she added.
“They are the patient and the family who will live with me the most.”
Vaught’s lawyers argued during the trial that although she was “distracted”, the error was caused by “systemic errors” at the hospital pharmacy.
But neither the medical facility nor anyone else has faced charges for the death.
“I think the whole world feels like I was a scapegoat,” she said.
“There’s a fine line between blame and responsibility, and in healthcare, we don’t blame. I am responsible for what I did not do. Vanderbilt is responsible for what they didn’t do.
And she added: “I will never be the same person again. It’s really hard to be happy about something without immediately feeling guilty.
“She could still be alive, with her family. Even with all the errors in the system, the nurse is the last to check.
The Independent Gt